The farmers are seeking redress of issues ranging from judicial corruption to possible criminal conspiracies between several business, judicial and government agency entities over the alleged mismanagement of the federal farm loan foreclosure process.
According to Burger’s letter:
They seek congressional oversight hearings by the Judiciary Committee of alleged denial of due process of law and obstruction of justice by employees of United States Attorneys, USDA Office of Inspector General, Federal District Courts & the Federal Bankruptcy Courts.
The problems within the Farm Service Administration go back decades—as far as 1915 in Texas. Much of the current institutional racism within the agency today can be traced to that era and is directly linked to the historical, institutional remnants of Jim Crow.
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…the ways that discrimination at the local, state, and national levels constrained minority farmers in Texas, USA, during the 20th century. It considers the characteristics of small-scale farming that created liabilities for landowners regardless of race, including state and federal programmes that favoured commercial and agribusiness interests. In addition to economic challenges, African American farmers had to negotiate racism in the Jim Crow South. The Texas Agricultural Extension Service, the state branch of the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Extension Service, segregated in 1915. The "Negro" division gave black farmers access to information about USDA programmes, but it emphasized their subordinate position relative to white farmers. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not reverse decades of racial discrimination. Instead, USDA officials relied on federalism, a theory as old as the constitution, to justify their tolerance of civil rights violations in Texas and elsewhere. Then, special needs legislation passed during the 1970s and 1980s did not realize its potential to serve ethnically diverse and economically disadvantaged rural Texans. Discrimination based on race combined with a bias toward commercial production. This affected most black farmers and led to their near extinction. (D. A. Reid)
Ethnic and economically disadvantaged small farmers maintain that systemic bias against minority, female and small-scale family farmers continues to be a major problem in the federal farm loan program. Many say that from a legal standpoint, there is clear evidence of a criminal conspiracy involving collusion and corruption within the farm loan agencies, auction and real estate businesses, and quite possibly the judiciary itself.
According to affidavits filed in federal court by Michael Lynch, Sidney Perceful and sections of a Qui Tam whistleblower Complaint filed December 7, 2007 in Kansas City Federal Court by Samuel Lipari, there is clear evidence, which “establish(es) the obstruction of justice and other misconduct attributed to government employees.” (Ibid)
The affected farmers include a broad spectrum of black, white, Native American, Hispanic, female, elderly and disabled farmers from Indiana, Kentucky, Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, Maine, New Jersey, Michigan, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Montana.
Historically, the “black farmer settlement” has generated a lot of bad blood between black and white family farmers. Although there is no denying the institutional bias, which has decimated the numbers of black farmers, white and other ethnic farmers have been subjected to institutional bias and policies, which are also hostile to family farmers as well. The main difference is in how we see the whole picture.
In a twisted example of past deeds coming back to bite you on the rear, s, it appears that some of the very same white farmers who were driven out of business by anti-family farmer bias within the federal farm loan bureaucracy, also had a hand in the reign of terror which ran hundreds of thousands of African American families out of the Deep South and away from farming. The lynching, murder, race-based terrorism, intimidation, land theft and economic sabotage were often committed by some of the same farmers who were later targeted by locally operated federal farm loan district offices and run out of business as well.
Even now, after all of the lawsuits, hearings, protests and media attention on loan servicing fraud, black, minority, elderly and other disadvantaged farmers remain under siege. A black farmer in Arkansas has lost more than $150,000 in a single season, after thieves switched his entire crop of high-grade cotton at an Arkansas co-op for a lower-grade crop. Land thieves in Texas have reportedly targeted an African American rancher, less than a year after they ran his older brother out of business in a case that was allegedly so full of corruption, collusion and criminal conspiracy that one real estate broker said she has never seen anything like it.
Family farmers say they are backbone of the nation’s food security, but their own financial security is under attack. Many now say that if something isn’t done, the nation’s family farmers could soon be facing the same kind of foreclosure catastrophe currently facing millions of homeowners around the nation.
In looking at the national mortgage crisis, and comparing it to what is happening in agriculture, there are many similarities. Those common denominators range from document deception, failure to follow federal Truth in Lending Laws, collusion between real estate agents, banks and auction houses, to allegations of possible judicial corruption.
Consumers have already voiced a litany of complaints on loan servicing in farm loans, student loans and in the mortgage industry. Similarities and common denominators across the loan industry have been a nightmare for farm rights advocates, consumer credit advocates and credit counselors.
According to an Ohio Legal Aid Forum, mortgage fraud includes:
· Junk fees, charges
· Unaccounted-for payments
· “Lapsed” insurance
· Hasty foreclosures
The one item, which stands out here, as a common denominator between farm loan foreclosures and other loan foreclosures, is the high incidence of unaccounted for payments. In foreclosure after foreclosure, land theft victims claim they have either paid on their mortgages, or have paid off the debt. And, in case after case, even if they have proof of payment in hand, courts have reportedly ignored their “proof” out of hand.
Harry Young of Kentucky claims he paid off his loan—his farm was sold in 2005. A black family in Virginia says they paid off their loan eight years ago. Their farm was sold in 2007. Thousands of contested farm foreclosures from around the nation contain allegations of payments which were never credited, or were credited to the wrong account, or were even reportedly credited to accounts of friends, acquaintences and/or business partners of the loan officer handling the loan.
In an article in In Motion magazine, George Naylor and Bert Henningson, Jr write:
When government leaders and corporate think tanks can be so insensitive to the family farmers' plight, it is not surprising that there appears to be a corporate and financial conspiracy to drive farmers off the land. It is difficult to view the displacement of family farmers as a conspiracy, when one considers how openly government and financial leaders take anti-farmer positions. The displacement of family farmers is, in reality, the natural working of an economic system based on control by the wealthy few. (“Legacy of Crisis; Framer Solutions, Corporate Resistance”)
Nevertheless, possible judicial corruption, together with the blatantly illegal sharing of credit information between farm loan agencies, banks and unauthorized business entities, combined with the incestuous business connections between farm loan agencies, real estate agencies, title companies and county deed office personnel, is a plain case of where there’s smoke, there’s an inferno.
Monica Davis is an author, columnist, broadcast journalist and public speaker, with hundreds of articles on land rights, environmental justice, the Indian Residential School scandal and economics. She is internationally published and her work includes: